International Men’s Health Week
This week (14th-20th June 2021) is International Men’s Health Week. It aims to give men and boys the information, services and treatment they need to live healthier, longer and more fulfilling lives. This year the focus is on men’s mental health, raising particular awareness of the struggles many men are experiencing as we slowly re-open and adjust to a post-Covid world.
We’d love to see more men in the hot room boosting their mental as well as their physical health, so for this month’s blog we had a Q&A with our fabulous instructor JC Rawady about his yoga journey and the benefits of regular practice. Enjoy!
Hi, I’m Jean-Claude Rawady, known as JCYogi. I am a yoga instructor at Hot Yoga Club and I am 51 years old. Previously I was a Head Chef for over 25 years. Yoga changed my life. My wife took me to my first class, and I was hooked, however I could not commit to a regular practise due to work. I was not sure what yoga was, but I learned over time that through performing physical asanas we can release a lot of emotions and turn towards the self.
I re-started my practice after a knee injury and felt the positive changes compared to the stress of long hours in the kitchen and unhealthy diet. Yoga helped me to ground, to connect and to appreciate the little things in my life. It brought awareness to my health and well-being.
HOW DID YOU BECOME A YOGA TEACHER?
I always felt the call to practice and to deepen my knowledge. My first 200-hour teacher training was purely for myself to expand my philosophical view of this ancient wisdom. My teacher offered me class cover and I took it, without the intention to teach permanently.
Every practice and every session tapped deep within me. I always felt calm and relaxed after the class, until I turned up to work the next day and my stress level rose again. I felt trapped.
I took the decision to attend yoga workshops including a mindfulness meditation course which I truly believe saved my life. I started to practise more and became patient. I attended yoga retreats and by 2015 (aged 45) I took a leap of faith to embark on the journey of becoming a yoga instructor. I have never looked back.
ORIGINALLY YOGA WAS INVENTED BY A MAN, FOR MEN, BUT IT’S DOMINATED BY WOMEN IN MANY COUNTRIES. ARE THERE TYPICAL ‘PROBLEM AREAS’ FOR MEN?
Yes, inflexibility, which is why they should join hot yoga classes! Egos can also get in the way. Saying that, everyone is different, and yoga is definitely not one size fits all. We adapt it at an individual level that allows you to work the muscles you never knew you had – there are always options.
“I understand that it can be intimidating to attend a class with few or no men and seeing flexible bodies around you but let me tell you one thing: yoga is for EVERYONE and yoga is your own individual journey.” JC
Men tend to have a more muscular frame which is amazing, however many neglect the need to stretch those muscles! Hot yoga will help them stretch safely, reducing the risk of injury. It will also help men relax and connect to the source within the self. I would love to see more men practising yoga and I encourage every man to attend a class.
For sports injuries or general niggles, yoga provides the tools to strengthen other body parts. I highly recommend practising yoga at least twice a week along with other activities. The most important thing to remember is to listen to your body, not your mind, and let go of the ego.
Common misconceptions include “I am not flexible enough to start yoga” or “yoga is for women”. However, when we practise yoga, we turn inward. No matter what is happening around us or who is practising next to us, we keep looking in and feel the pose.
“Yoga shapes the soul before it shapes the body. Yoga is for the fearless heart that decides to take the first class, knowing that changes will happen and being ok with that, and knowing that emotions will arise, and being ok with that.” JC
LET’S TALK ABOUT MEN’S MENTAL HEALTH…
Hot yoga can and will improve men’s mental health. When we practise, we tap into our energy channels (chakra). Each one is associated with an element that allow us to release our kosha (or bodies) such as physical, mental, astral and emotional, through the practice of pranayama (breath work), mudra (energy seal) and even mantra (chant). This is where we learn to start to let go and be present (mindfulness) so the mind expands and the changes happen. However, it takes time to move from the physical to the emotional and patience is essential, but worth it.
“Men often think yoga is just sitting or lying and stretching but it is much deeper than this. Hot yoga will help you cope with the daily stresses of life and release the associated tension. It is a great for the community to come together through yoga.” JC
Hot yoga is energising and uplifting as well as giving you the feeling of calm and relaxation. We access the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system as we practise in the heat, allowing us to relax our mind and body. Our focus is on our breath, so we bring more oxygen into the lungs.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE THE TOP THREE BENEFITS OF HOT YOGA?
1. To stretch our bodies and mind
2. To connect to the source (the self)
3. To release any stagnant energy that is holding us back.
We often hold on to a trauma and this can be buried down deep or swept under the carpet. Through yoga, we can actually release this trauma and free ourselves from it.
All sports professionals practise yoga, including singers and divers. I have helped a professional golfer win their game through learning to connect with their breath.
WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR THRIVING IN THE HOT ROOM?
> Plenty of water / fluid
> Rest when needed, in child’s pose or lying on your back
> Always listen to your body and not your mind
> Wear soft clothing like shorts and vest and always have a towel
> Ideally, avoid food for at least two hours before practice and always tell your instructor if you have any injuries or feel unwell.
Join JC for BFree Yoga on Thursday evenings from 18.00-19.00 where he will give both men and women a warm welcome. We encourage a no ego policy – there’s no need to compare, compete or exert. Be kind to yourself and each other.
“I truly encourage men to come forward to practise yoga. Your life will thank you for this.” JC
Click here to download our insightful Q&A session with JC.